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Brick by Brick    by David Robertson order for
Brick by Brick
by David Robertson
Order:  USA  Can
Crown, 2013 (2013)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

In Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry, David Robertson shines the spotlight on one of the most iconic toy companies in the world.

What began in the early 1930s in a Danish carpenter's workshop turned into a company whose products were recognized and enjoyed the world over. Ole Kirk Christiansen wanted to create a product that would foster good play while enriching the child's creative life as well.

The firm's name, a combination of the first two letters from Danish words leg godt, or play well, captured what Christiansen was attempting to do with the high quality wooden toys he created.

Over the years, as the wooden toys gave way to plastic, interchangeable bricks and other stand-alone plastic toys, the company has refined or reinterpreted its mission, but the main idea of fostering the joy of building and the pride of creation as they stimulated the child's imagination and creativity has remained constant.

What many people don't realize, though, is that LEGO came close to bankruptcy about a decade ago. Just months away from insolvency, a dedicated and determined group of individuals saved the firm and refocused it.

Robertson not only explains how LEGO came to be in such dire straits but also how the closely held firm managed to pull itself back from going over the edge. A new leadership team led by Jorgen Vig Knudstrop, reinvented the company's seven truths of innovation.

They synthesized these truths into a world-class innovative management system, thus managing one of the most astounding business turnarounds in recent history.

As he takes the reader through this remarkable period in LEGO's history, Robertson explains how the company discovered the value of co-creating with kids and adult fans of its products and thus opened its innovative process.

The many practical lessons LEGO learned in this struggle for survival are applicable to other situations. For companies that rely on innovation to stay relevant and maintain their competitive edge, this is a story that bears reading and taking to heart.

Given unprecedented first hand access to this famously insular company, Robertson offers a fascinating picture of what LEGO does well and what it has done poorly in the past. This is a unique behind the scenes and candid picture of how an 80 year old company managed to continue to prosper after it shot itself in the foot and nearly died!

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